Wednesday, 9 July 2008

John Templeton dies aged 95

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John Templeton, founder of the annual Templeton Prize, died yesterday aged 95. A well-known businessman and philanthropist, in 1987 he founded the John Templeton Foundation to provide funding for those researching the Universe's "big questions".

The Templeton Prize for Progress Toward Research or Discoveries about Spiritual Realities has been awarded every year since 1972 and operates on the premise that there is no inherent conflict between science and religion, going as it does to the person who best exemplifies "trying various ways for discoveries and breakthroughs to expand human perceptions of divinity and to help in the acceleration of divine creativity." The prize money, which currently stands at £795,000, is regularly adjusted to ensure it remains higher than the amounts awarded for Nobel Prizes.

In his attempt to bring religion and science together, Templeton attracted much criticism, most notably from Richard Dawkins who, in The God Delusion, describes his prize as "a very large sum of money given ... usually to a scientist who is prepared to say something nice about religion".